Pilates Students' Manual

Centering and Concentration - The Six Pilates Principles

August 06, 2020 Olivia Bioni Season 1 Episode 10
Pilates Students' Manual
Centering and Concentration - The Six Pilates Principles
Chapters
0:00
Welcome
1:37
Anatomical Centering
5:06
Mental Centering
10:21
Concentration
16:06
Moving from (and to) Center
Pilates Students' Manual
Centering and Concentration - The Six Pilates Principles
Aug 06, 2020 Season 1 Episode 10
Olivia Bioni

Continuing the series exploring the Pilates principles, this week we dive into the principles of centering and concentration. What are they? How are they interconnected? Why should you try to embody them in your Pilates adventuring? Tune in to find out!

Follow the podcast on Instagram @pilatesstudentsmanual and on the web here: https://bit.ly/PilatesStudentsManual for the latest! 

Email [email protected] with your feedback. 

Show Notes: 

Hear it straight from Joe's mouth in his books Your Health *https://bit.ly/YourHealthPilates* and Return to Life Through Contrology *https://bit.ly/JoeReturntoLife

Support the podcast:    


Boka toothpaste: 15% off of your first order! *http://bit.ly/bokaPTM*  


Fabletics activewear: Get your first two pairs of leggings for $24! *http://bit.ly/fableticsPTM*   

Kencko smoothies: $10 off your first purchase of this delicious, portable smoothie subscription! *http://bit.ly/kenckoPTM*  


Package Free Shop zero waste shopping: $10 off your first order and go green! *http://bit.ly/packagefreePTM*  


Ritual multivitamin: $15 off your first month of minty vitamins! First 10 sign ups only! *http://bit.ly/ritualPTM


Winc wine subscription: $22 off your first order of wine! *https://bit.ly/wincPSM

Episode Music: 

This episode uses NCS music in compliance with https://ncs.io/usage-policy

Track: Syn Cole - Gizmo [NCS Release]
Music provided by NoCopyrightSounds.
Watch: https://youtu.be/pZzSq8WfsKo
Free Download / Stream: http://ncs.io/Gizmo

Track: Syn Cole - Feel Good [NCS Release]
Music provided by NoCopyrightSounds.
Watch: https://youtu.be/q1ULJ92aldE
Free Download / Stream: http://ncs.io/feelgood

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/oliviapodcasts)

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Continuing the series exploring the Pilates principles, this week we dive into the principles of centering and concentration. What are they? How are they interconnected? Why should you try to embody them in your Pilates adventuring? Tune in to find out!

Follow the podcast on Instagram @pilatesstudentsmanual and on the web here: https://bit.ly/PilatesStudentsManual for the latest! 

Email [email protected] with your feedback. 

Show Notes: 

Hear it straight from Joe's mouth in his books Your Health *https://bit.ly/YourHealthPilates* and Return to Life Through Contrology *https://bit.ly/JoeReturntoLife

Support the podcast:    


Boka toothpaste: 15% off of your first order! *http://bit.ly/bokaPTM*  


Fabletics activewear: Get your first two pairs of leggings for $24! *http://bit.ly/fableticsPTM*   

Kencko smoothies: $10 off your first purchase of this delicious, portable smoothie subscription! *http://bit.ly/kenckoPTM*  


Package Free Shop zero waste shopping: $10 off your first order and go green! *http://bit.ly/packagefreePTM*  


Ritual multivitamin: $15 off your first month of minty vitamins! First 10 sign ups only! *http://bit.ly/ritualPTM


Winc wine subscription: $22 off your first order of wine! *https://bit.ly/wincPSM

Episode Music: 

This episode uses NCS music in compliance with https://ncs.io/usage-policy

Track: Syn Cole - Gizmo [NCS Release]
Music provided by NoCopyrightSounds.
Watch: https://youtu.be/pZzSq8WfsKo
Free Download / Stream: http://ncs.io/Gizmo

Track: Syn Cole - Feel Good [NCS Release]
Music provided by NoCopyrightSounds.
Watch: https://youtu.be/q1ULJ92aldE
Free Download / Stream: http://ncs.io/feelgood

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/oliviapodcasts)

[00:00:00] Welcome to Pilates Students' Manual, everything you want to know about Pilates in one place. I'm Olivia, and I'll be your host. Jump in the conversation on Instagram @pilatesstudentsmanual, and be sure to subscribe for updates on new episodes. Let's learn something new together.

Hello, hello everybody. Welcome back. Continuing our six principles of  discussion today, I'm going to be talking about two principles- and doing them both justice, I hope- the principles of centering and concentration. All six of the principles are breathing, centering, control, [00:01:00] concentration, precision, and rhythm. As we learned last week, the mnemonic I have for that is B triple C, P R. And I think these two, centering and concentration, go together really well. 

So what I'm going to be sharing with you today is my interpretation of those two principles and why they mesh, and again, why it's important for you to know the Pilates principles. I feel like if you do Pilates, you do already know the principles just through practice. You may not have the words for them. You've definitely done them and applied them to your Pilates classes, or it wouldn't be Pilates. 

First, I want to talk about centering. I did do an episode on the podcast called "What is the Core?" and that really speaks to the anatomical centering, but I also think of centering in a second way, and that's sort of a grounded-ness, a being-in-your-body-ness. So let's look at those two, those two flavors of centering. 

[00:02:00] In the "What is the Core?" episode we're really discussing the primary powerhouse, as Joe called it. And that's anatomically your deep core. That's the stabilizing muscles of your transverse abdominis, your pelvic floor, your a little bit of internal oblique fibers, your diaphragm, your multifidus, that sort of abdominal canister and that center part of your body. 

We talk a lot in Pilates as working proximal to distal. So before we add, you know, coordination challenges, or lots of choreography with your arms and your legs and your head, we really want to stabilize and understand what's going on in the center of the body first. Because once you get that under control, once you get that stabilized, then you can do all of those other amazing movements, but safely, and just from the center.

[00:03:00] I would argue that your shoulder girdle would also be a part of centering. I would take your entire torso really to be, you know, the center of the body, just like excluding your limbs and head. That the muscles specifically around the pelvis that are stabilizing your legs, and then the muscles of the shoulders that are stabilizing your arms are really important for that centeredness.

All of the movements in Pilates progress from these simple movements that happen at the center to these complex beautiful, intricate, elegant movements that incorporate really all of the body working together. But it definitely starts at the center. 

I don't know if I would call your shoulders necessarily, or your glutes- I don't know if I would call those the core, but in terms of just the center of your body, I think what's going on in the torso is really important. Again, revisit that "What is the Core?" episode to talk about the deep core [00:04:00] stabilizers. 

But really the stability in the shoulder girdle, which is often called the secondary powerhouse- that your primary powerhouse is stabilizing the pelvis, which is of course stabilizing your legs, and then the secondary powerhouse is going to be your shoulders, really stabilizing the arms. And sometimes in terms of centering, what's going on with your shoulder blades particularly is important because it's not just your arms that are going with your shoulder blades. It's also your back and your front. There's a lot of places that your shoulder attaches, and that's definitely a place that we want stability. 

One of the reasons that there's so many injuries is because our shoulders are uniquely unstable even more than our pelvis because our shoulder blades move. Like our pelvis doesn't move. It can shift slightly. If you've ever had like SI stuff going on, it can shift, but you can like physically move your shoulder blade up your back, down your back towards the front of the chest, towards your spine, it can rotate. Our pelvis doesn't do that so much, which is good. So that's another place that [00:05:00] we really want to find stability. And when we're working from the center, that's another spot that we really want to think about. 

Another way, way of looking at centering is more of that, I don't know if it's right to call it the emotional quality or the mental quality, but an idea of being centered and being in your body and feeling really grounded as another way to incorporate centering into your Pilates practice.

Pilates requires your full attention, which is why I linked this specific principle with concentration because Pilates really demands all of you, mentally and physically. If you're distracted, if you're not centered, if you're not in your body, you're going to have a really difficult time executing any of the movements and really engaging with the movements.

You have to be tuned into your body and really paying attention to [00:06:00] what is going on to nail those really difficult things for you. I, you know, I have a client who's working on a roll down and to do a roll down, or a roll up, or a roll over, or anytime when you're articulating through your spine, you need to have really close attention, really clear attention on the movements on your muscles.

Sometimes I joke that your brain is an 80s supercomputer. There's lots of flashing lights and dials and buttons, and you need to be paying attention to execute those movements correctly, especially when it's a hard movement for your body. Like you need everything thing that you can give to make it happen.

This also correlates a lot to breathing because one of the ways that you can get into your body is through your breath. One of the easiest meditation practices, or one of the most accessible meditation practices, is just watching your breath and following your breath. [00:07:00] And that can be very calming in a world where our mind is often going many, many different directions. Our attention is being pulled in many, many different directions. Maybe you're listening to this podcast, but you're also texting someone and you're also checking your notifications. Like there's so much multitasking that happens in our life and tuning into just the breath is a way to center. 

Moving from that place of grounded-ness is going to give you a higher rate of success. And it's going to give you more joy, I think, in your Pilates practice, because you're going to be able to notice the small victories, which I think is so, so important. Is it great to nail a teaser? Oh my gosh, of course it's great to nail a teaser. That's fantastic. Every time you nail a teaser, it's great to nail a teaser. 

But those small things like, Oh, I noticed when I could scoop a little bit deeper, or I could find that imprint in a different part of my spine. Or [00:08:00] I was working through my bridge and I've noticed in the past, because I've been paying attention and really been centered as I've been working, that there's a part of my spine that was a little bit sticky when I was articulating through a shoulder bridge and now that's loosened or I have more room. Or, wow, I really found my hamstrings when I was doing footwork on the reformer. 

All of those things that may not even be noticeable to your instructor, let alone just the untrained eye watching, those little victories, those things that you notice for yourself where you're like, Oh, that's different. Oh, that's new. Oh, I'm able to do this thing that I wasn't able to do. And you're going to have those big moments where you nail teaser, but you're also going to have many, many more small moments where something just feels new, feels fresh, and it's really a way to stay interested and keep growing in your Pilates adventure.

In the yoga world, [00:09:00] centering is I would say almost exclusively used this way, that it's about being in tune with yourself and really being in your body. And I think Pilates as well, offers you a way to be in your body and you just get more out of it if you start there. 

So those are my thoughts on centering, that we're working from the center anatomically, but also from the center mentally that you want to be in a place where you can pay attention, you can breathe and you can, you know, perform these exercises, using all of these Pilates principles to make it happen.

Coming up after the break, I'm going to be looking at concentration, why these two principles go together and, hopefully we're getting why it's important to know them, but I will dive in there as well.

Hey, there. Enjoying the episode? Me too. [00:10:00] You should definitely subscribe so you get notifications about new episodes. And if you love it, maybe leave me a review. That would be awesome. Thanks for sharing the Pilates love. Now back to the show.

Concentration, I think is one of the principles that leads to that confusion between Pilates and yoga sometimes. Because Pilates is also a mindful movement and it really does demand your full attention. And it does, does evoke a meditative state, sometimes it can, but to get the most out of it, it really does demand that you concentrate.

First of all, to do it at all, you need to be concentrating. To do anything like beyond the simplest, and sometimes to even do the simplest, things, you really need to be focused. 

And I don't want to say that if you're not a hundred percent focused [00:11:00] on every movement you do in Pilates, that you're not doing Pilates. That is not the camp that I fall into at all. You can still benefit from going through the motions. Every day is a little bit different in terms of your emotional state, in terms of your physical, your mental state. And especially being in quarantine, taking classes in my living room, just on the computer, you know, I definitely phoned in some of my workouts and I did Pilates because I knew I would feel better once I was done doing Pilates, but I'm not going to lie to you and say that I was, you know, being my best Pilates self and that's okay.

Because anxiety is a thing. Stress is a thing. Sometimes you don't sleep well, sometimes you don't feel great, but you're still doing this thing for yourself and you can still get benefits from that. Sometimes you can end that workout or end that session feeling more centered and having more concentration than you did when you started. And that's totally fine. I don't want to shame you for not, you know, always putting your very best [00:12:00] self out there. 

But the full Pilates experience in an ideal world where you can devote your attention to it and all you have to do is choose to do it. You really will benefit from concentrating, like I discussed before in centering, you begin to notice those little things, those little changes, those little victories, when you pay attention, when you notice what your body does, when you have that understanding of your body.

I think that's also part of the meditation-like aspect of Pilates, that if you are really tuning into your breath, working from the center with this concentration, that you will get an aspect of mental rejuvenation in addition to the physical strengthening and physical, increased mobility, increased flexibility. All of the benefits of Pilates will be increased when you pay attention to what's going on and you can make those micro-adjustments for yourself. 

[00:13:00] I think concentration is one of the ways that you, as a Pilates student, begin to step into your agency as a mover and a person who has a body, because when you have that attention on yourself, you don't rely on a teacher to say, "Draw your shoulders away from your ears." You feel it and you notice it for yourself. And then you make those adjustments based on how your body's feeling and how you're working through the exercises. 

Pilates is a slower exercise. It's not a hiit class. It's not a, you know, cardio kickboxing class, it's a slower, mindful movement. And sometimes people think that Pilates is boring and I get, a lot of times, new-to-Pilates people who think that it's boring. I would argue that if you're really paying attention, it's impossible for it to be boring for the reasons that I've mentioned. 

It's important to move slowly when you start doing Pilates. And when you're doing an exercise for the first time, it's [00:14:00] really important to go slowly so you can notice what's going on. You can feel your body in space and you can understand what's happening in your body and in the exercise.

Pilates, especially foundational Pilates stuff, is not trying to distract you with some smoke and mirrors and flashy choreography. Like the very core movements of Pilates, the very foundational movements of Pilates, are really simple, but also really beautiful and really elegant. 

And when you put in the time and put in the work so that you understand that foundation, which can be the hardest part. I know everyone wants to do the cool thing, right? Everyone wants to stand on the reformer, but when you understand stability so that you are able to stand on the reformer, that's when you take the elegance of that foundation and really just add it to the elegance of whatever, [00:15:00] challenging, difficult, intricate choreography you want to throw on top of that.

So I see centering and concentration as really deeply intertwined. And I would throw breath in there and I haven't said the word control or precision or flow, but all of those things you're seeing that they're really just different and sides of like a die, that they're just different ways of looking at the same beautiful thing.

But if you're centered mentally, physically- I would say emotionally, there's a lot going on right now, right? If you're centered and you're moving from the center, then you're concentrating because you can't move from the center unless you have identified your center and stabilized in your center, right?

And the flip side of that, when you're concentrating, it's really easy to access the deep core stabilizers. It's easier to find the right button to press on your 80s super computer brain so that your leg does the thing, and your teacher says externally rotate your femur at your hip socket, and you can turn your whole [00:16:00] leg and not just your ankle. Like you can identify what the teacher wants from you and then you can execute that. 

One last thing that I want to throw into the conversation about centering and concentration is that as much as we're working proximal to distal, we're also working back towards the center. So as much as we're working from the center out towards distal ends through the limbs, we're also working back to center. When you're thinking about the way that we use Pilates to correct imbalances, to get back into balance, to come back to neutral, to come back to center, really that's something that requires some focus. Because you have to know where you are in order to adjust, and any meaningful adjustment happens, not just in your one hour long Pilates class, but really in a new [00:17:00] awareness of your body in everyday life.

And really using what you've discovered in Pilates, which is very much a movement laboratory, and then using that to correct your posture, to remedy imbalances, to move in a way that's more efficient and pain free. And that's another way that centering and concentration really go hand in hand. They go together. All the principles go together. They really build on each other. It's difficult to discuss one without discussing more of them because they really are like layers on a cake. Or like I said, just flip sides of a die, that they're all intertwined. 

There are three more principles coming up. Control, rhythm and precision are coming up next, likely in more than one episode. So get excited for that. Go ahead and hit that subscribe button so you get notified of new episodes. If you didn't catch the episode on [00:18:00] Breathing, you can go back and listen to it on the website or anywhere you listen to podcasts. Have a great week, my friends, and I'll talk to you soon.

Thanks for stopping by for today's episode of Pilates Students' Manual. Subscribe to follow the podcast and join the community of Pilates lovers on Instagram @pilatesstudentsmanual. You can reach out to me there with questions, comments, or feedback, or send me an email at [email protected]

If you learned something new today, share this episode and the Pilates is love. The adventure continues. Until next time. [00:19:00]



Welcome
Anatomical Centering
Mental Centering
Concentration
Moving from (and to) Center